Some time ago I came up with an idea. It was definitely bigger than anything I've tried before. It wasn't something that I could do from the safety of my home, I would have to pack up my car and go. I decided that I wanted to get a sunrise and sunset photo of every national park. There are 59 of them from Maine to Florida to Alaska to American Samoa, and I plan on going to all of them. Whether I do this through one big trip or pieced together through shorter stinks, time will tell. But whatever the time frame and logistical challenges this presents, a stop at each park is in my future and I am looking forward to it.
Since this idea crept into my head, it has been on my mind constantly. Planning, wondering, research, etc. Along with excitement of organizing a trip like this comes some negativity also, thoughts intermingle with my research... "I don't have enough money, I don't have enough equipment, traveling by yourself is lonely, the time just isn't right...".
Then a strange thing happened. I just decided to do it. Overthinking of this can lead to this indecisiveness and the thought of "I can't go yet because I don't (insert your excuse here)." There will never be the exact right time to go. I could save more money, wait for better weather, do more research...but that keeps me here. Now the questions are "What am I packing, where am I sleeping, which route do I take, etc."
I plan on driving my Subaru to as many places as I can. With a mix of car camping, ground camping and asking anyone I know that lives near a national park if they have any couch space, the journey will be as much a part of the story as the destinations. So if you live in an area that is close to a national park, you've been warned.
I'll be hitting the road January 5th. The first leg of this trip will take me towards Arizona and California. I like these times in the winter months because, while still cold, there will not be as many other humans out there. It will also provide a different photographic perspective than what is seen by most people. There are three parks in Arizona - Petrified Forest, the Grand Canyon and Saguaro. The first two are well known but the latter is a little more obscure. I will be able to give more detail about these parks when I get there and start exploring.
I will be updating this as often as I can. I'm sure I will be without an internet connection for long stretches of time and, quite frankly, I'm ok with that. A computer has dominated my life (and paid my bills) for the last few years and stepping away from one is going to be a challenge in itself but one I am looking forward to facing.
I realize this is a very unconventional thing to do, leave your job, your home and all the comforts that come with that, but it is an idea that has gotten ahold of me and won't ease up until I am actually doing it. So after the new year I will be in the Southwest, taking photos, trail running and exploring. If anyone lives in the area or has done this type of thing before and has any advice, I would love to hear it.
I want to send a big thank you to Don and Shelly from 59nationalparks.com for the help so far. They answered a lot of my dumb questions and have pointed me in the right direction to get my trip started. They also have some really good photos and stories about their travels. Besides their website, you can find them on Twitter @59NationalParks or on Instagram at 59NationalParks.